The Federal Bureau of Investigation said this week that Samuel Little is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history after investigators verified 50 deaths from a confession he gave authorities earlier this year.
Little, 79, was already serving three consecutive life sentences when he confessed to an additional 90 murders last year to authorities. Investigators were able to confirm 50 of the killings Little said he perpetrated and are seeking assistance from the public to help them identify the rest of Little's potential victims. Little told authorities that he strangled 93 women across the country between 1970 and 2005. Many of Little's victims were originally ruled overdoses or attributed to accidental or undetermined causes. Some of Little's victims were never found. Authorities say he was able to get away with the killings for decades because of his nomadic lifestyle that he'd adopted while working as a boxer moving from city to city.
If what Little said is true, the 93 victims would be far more than the body counts of previous infamous serial killers, such as Gary Ridgeway, the 'Green River Killer,' who confessed to nearly 70 murders. Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy both murdered at least 30 people with Bundy's body count suspected to be far higher.
Authorities finally caught up with the 79-year-old in Kentucky in 2012 and extradited to face a narcotics charge. The Los Angeles Police Department was able to use DNA evidence to tie Little to three murders between 1987 and 1989. He was eventually convicted in 2014 and sentenced to three life sentences.
“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” said ViCAP Crime Analyst Christie Palazzolo. “Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim—to close every case possible.”
Little was extradited back to Texas late last year after entering a guilty plea in the 1994 death of Denise Christie Brothers. He will likely spend the remainder of his life in a Texas state prison.
The FBI posted a series of videos in which Little confessed to his crimes, including one of his first victims, identified by Little as 'Marianne.'
One problem for police in identifying Little's victims is that many of them lived on the margins of society, including prostitutes, drug addicts or transgender women whose disappearance did not draw much attention after they disappeared. Little, who traveled extensively while working as a road boxer, strangled his victims and would often dump their bodies in wooded areas.
Little's case was passed on to the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), which analyzes people who commit serial violent and sexual crimes. The agency uses that information to check against any other unsolved crimes in other jurisdictions. When ViCAP was tasked with doing a full background check on Little, they noticed the description of his killings in Los Angeles, matched several other deaths that stretched back to the 1970s.
"A Jane Doe who turned up dead in an alley in New Orleans may look like an isolated event,” stressed Kevin Fitzsimmons a ViCAP supervisory crime analyst. “But when entered into the ViCAP database and examined with other mysterious deaths or missing persons, patterns emerge. That is the value of ViCAP."
The FBI is urging anyone who might have any information linked to Little’s confessions to please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit at tip online at tips.fbi.gov.